Saturday, May 22, 2010

Memo To Glenn Beck: Your Favorite Black Icon, Martin Luther King Jr., Was Big Into "Social Justice"

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck has been working hard to claim the mantle of Martin Luther King for conservatives like himself. He's even planning a big Tea Party event for the anniversary of King's march on Washington "I Have a Dream" speech. (Wait, let me guess: Glenn Beck, too, has a dream. Yegh.)

Thursday on his Fox News show, he tried to deny that progressives had any right to the mantle of civil rights:
Beck: Who were the Civil Rights marchers? They were people with a profound belief in God. They were trying to set things right. They weren't crying for social justice! They were crying out for equal justice!
Well, actually, Glenn ...

"Social justice" was a common rallying cry for the Civil Rights movement. Indeed, your newly adopted hero, Martin Luther King, gave a famous speech in Michigan titled "Social Justice and the Emerging New Age", on December 18, 1963, at the Herman W. Read Fieldhouse at Western Michigan University.
I think with all of these challenges being met and with all of the work, and determination going on, we will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice.
The speech may best be remembered for its stirring conclusion:
In spite of the difficulties of this hour, I am convinced that we have the resources to make the American Dream a reality. I am convinced of this because I believe Carlyle is right. "No lie can live forever." I am convinced of this because I believe William Cullen Bryant is right. "Truth pressed to earth will rise again." I am convinced of this because I think James Russell Lowell is right. "Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne; Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own." Somehow with this faith, we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new life into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation to a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. This will be a great day. This will be the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, Almighty, we are free at last!"
Of course, this all kinda raises the point we've made previously with Beck: If progressives really are a cancer destroying America, what about the cause of civil rights they championed?

It's a joke and an outrage that Beck is trying to claim MLK's mantle for conservatives -- the people who were MLK's lifelong enemy. I hope folks in the civil rights community start making a stink about this nonsense.

'Over The Cliff' Warmup: The Top Ten Provably Untrue Things Tea Partiers Believe

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As John mentioned a little bit ago, the new Crooks and Liars book Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane, cowritten by John and me (with a huge assist from the whole C&L team), is about to hit the shelves -- it's officially due out on bookstore shelves June 1, though it's already available through Amazon.

Stephen Levingston at the Washington Post asked us to write up a piece illustrating one of the book's chief theses -- namely, that the American Right, embodied nowadays in the Tea Party movement, now widely embraces a belief in things that are provably untrue.

The piece ran in the Post this week: "10 fictitious Tea Party beliefs":

We’ll admit up-front that the title of our forthcoming book,“Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane,” indulges in some rhetorical imprecision: conservatives in the United States are of course not really insane in any clinical or legal sense, and we are not suggesting they undergo sanity hearings to determine if their rights should be suspended. We mean “insane” in the common-sense meaning of the word -- having taken leave of their senses.
What other word, after all, can properly describe the behavior of people who adamantly insist on believing things that are provably untrue? Einstein facetiously defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Defiantly clinging to exploded fantasies and thoroughly debunked false “facts,” even when evidence of their falsity is planted directly in front of them, is a kind of insanity too.

The numbers of things that the American Right -- embodied in its wildly popular new “grassroots” Tea Party movement – believes but that are provably untrue is actually a pretty long list. But we’ve put together the Top 10, listed by importance in their increasingly Planet Bizarro-like worldview:

1. The birth-certificate conspiracy. Reality: Not even official birth certificates from Hawaii, newspaper clippings from 1961, and the testimony of state officials will convince the true-blue Tea Partiers. Which is why WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah lectured the National Tea Party Convention for an hour about the “truth” of the birth-certificate story.

2. Death panels. Reality: PolitiFact named Sarah Palin’s Facebook invention its “Lie of the Year,” and the belief was thoroughly exposed as a falsehood by every news network (even Fox). Yet Palin still insists that the panels exist somewhere in the health-care reform bill that was signed into law, its actual language notwithstanding.

3. Obama is a Muslim/Socialist/Fascist. Glenn Beck’s fantasy of the week -- one week Obama was a Socialist, the next he was a Communist, then a Fascist. Then it was on to Marxism and Maoism -- was avidly adopted by sign-bearing fans at Tea Party gatherings, who sometimes shared Beck’s confusion by just calling Obama All of the Above. Reality: Give us a break. Obama’s self-evident cautious centrism, embodied by his health-care reform package stripped of a public option, as well as his more recent embrace of a limited offshore drilling program, has infuriated liberals in his party -- but it hasn’t stopped Tea Partiers from denouncing the president as a radical anyway.

4. Obama is going to take away our guns. Well, the NRA managed to scare a whole lot of people into buying up every gun and piece of ammunition in sight the first year or so after Obama’s election. And at least five police officers died because the suspects they were arresting feared Obama was going to take away their guns. But Obama not only has adhered to his promise not to address gun-control issues, there hasn’t been even a breath of it from his administration. Which, of course, just makes the paranoids that much more paranoid: It’s proof that he’s really up to something.

5. Obama is raising our taxes. Reality: Obama lowered taxes for 95 percent of working Americans in his first year in office. But, you know, he’s a liberal Democrat – and for true-blue right-wing folks, that ALWAYS means a tax hike.

6. Fascism is a left-wing phenomenon. We can thank Jonah Goldberg -- with a big assist from Beck -- for the popularity of this one, even though Goldberg’s thesis has been demolished and angrily dismissed by academic historians. It’s especially come in handy for Tea Partiers with Obama-as-Hitler signs, who are not impressed by those pointy-headed professorial types anyway.

7. Global warming is a hoax. So Sean Hannity assures us, citing the Climategate brouhaha -- which was itself shown largely to be a hoax of its own. Meanwhile, the world’s ocean levels keep rising, and glaciers and the polar ice cap keep receding -- regardless of the endless words thrown up denying that they are.

8. Some 16,000 new IRS agents will enforce the new health care reform act by throwing you in jail. Reality: The IRS is actually only increasing its spending in the coming budget year as it normally would -- but some Republican operatives decided to figure out how many positions its increased budget would buy, and came up with 16,000, a figure that then became gospel on Newt Gingrich’s lips. According to the same mythmakers, this nonexistent new army of health care police was going to start throwing people in jail if they failed to buy health insurance -- though in fact, the only penalties contemplated for such failures are fines and taxes.

9. Two million people were at the 9/12 March on Washington. At the culmination of a monthlong promotion (highlighted by a national Tea Party Express bus tour) by Beck and Fox News, about 70,000 people gathered on the National Mall on September 12 to protest. Beck cited an erroneous early report that over a million had shown up. Later that grew to be two million, the figure now commonly cited by Tea Party leaders as evidence of their tremendous numerical force.

10. The Tea Parties are a non-partisan, broad grassroots movement. Sure, if by non-partisan you mean rabidly paleo-conservative, to the point of even dismissing Republicans, and by grassroots you mean fake populism organized and whipped up by the most popular cable-news network on television, with a heaping helping of corporate financing.

Tea Party folks and their defenders also want to believe that they’re just ordinary Americans who want to be serious about helping their country. But it’s pretty hard to fit that description when you embrace plain old nuttiness.

While we're at it, there's been a lot more great reading out there this past week on the Tea Parties that definitely underscore our thesis. Here's a rundown:

Adele Stan at AlterNet, "Dismiss the Tea Parties at Your Peril -- They're a Force to Be Reckoned With":
While it's true that the astroturfers are adept at exploiting certain factions of the movement, the Tea Party movement itself is an organic creature, often incoherent and confused in its aims. Grassroots chapters meet in homes and halls far beyond the machinations of the Beltway-industrial complex. Those invested in diminishing the movement's importance point to its lack of organization and lucidity.

But those are exactly the reasons it remains so dangerous: anybody with a paranoid claim that seems plausible in the right-wing universe can pick off a portion of the movement, and with some money and moxie, mobilize a throng of foot-soldiers for his or her cause.
Chip Berlet, Taking Tea Partiers Seriously:
But no matter how the electoral political battles turn out, the trivialization of rightwing populism must stop. It is toxic to democracy in a general sense. And it also results in an increasingly hostile environment for immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Arabs, reproductive rights activists, and lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered persons.
Arun Gupta at TruthOut, "Republicans and the Tea Party of No":
Like the Clinton years, no matter how much Obama tries to appease Republicans, he will remain under attack and be held responsible for bizarre crimes and conspiracies because the right has nothing to gain from compromise. In fact, Republican opposition has devolved from the philosophical to the tactical. The right-wing noise machine frames Obama and the Democrats as the source of all evil, making compromise virtually impossible. Republicans now assail Obama policies they used to champion from the market-friendly health care law and huge tax cuts in the stimulus bill to the bipartisan deficit commission and pay-as you-go budget rules.

At the same time, the Obama administration has stoked support for the Tea Party by providing aid and comfort to Wall Street rather than Main Street. The Republicans have exploited legitimate anxieties over high unemployment, a shrinking economy and onerous taxes by scapegoating the weak and marginal for policies that are structural and historical in nature.

The lesson for Obama and Democrats is not that they went too far to the “left,” it’s that they went too far to the right. Obama had the political capital and the leverage over the banking and auto industries to push for a “Green New Deal” that could have restructured the transportation and energy sectors and created millions of new jobs. Slashing the bloated military budget while fighting for some type of single-payer health care – instead of a plan that uses public money to subsidize the for-profit healthcare industry – budget deficits could have been constrained while reducing the financial burden of medical bills for most American households. Implementing such an agenda could have created a mass constituency that would fight for a progressive vision and against the right’s repressive politics.

Sean Hannity Fabricates A List Of Fabricated Military Records -- By Dems. George W. Bush Didn't Count.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Republicans have been riding high on the hog over Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's military-record woes this week, even though it appears the tables have now turned.

Seems the NYT's "expose" was more in the vein of thinly disguised hit piece that overplayed a minor verbal misstep.

No one, of course, was more eager to exploit the NYT's story and use it as a chance to bash Democrats than Sean Hannity, who devoted a whole segment to other supposed Democratic "fabrications" of military records. But these, of course, were as similarly fabricated themselves as the Blumenthal hit: the grotesque attacks on John Kerry's military record, as well as Tom Harkin's long-ago, one-time inflation of his record.

That's funny: We here at C&L remember all too well another tale of a concocted military record, created to cover up the sordid reality that the politician in question actually was derelict in his duty and had failed to live up to his military commitment -- a commitment that actually got him out of combat duty.

But then, the case involved George W. Bush and his non-service in the Texas Air National Guard:

The core of the matter is fairly simple, and boils down to two facts that are simply not in dispute:
Bush blew off his physical in the spring of 1972, thereby ignoring a direct order from his superiors.
Bush then definitely performed no drills at all for any unit of the National Guard between early May 1972 and late November 1972 at the earliest. This is a period of nearly seven months.

As I noted early on
, Bush's published description of this episode nakedly falsified the facts:
These facts have never been disputed since they were uncovered, and in fact were acknowledged by Bush's spokespeople. Moreover, as Joe Conason has already noted, Bush actually falsified this aspect of his service in his ghost-written autobiography, A Charge to Keep, describing his pilot's training in some detail, then concluding: ''I continued flying with my unit for the next several years." In fact, Bush was suspended from flying 22 months after he completed his training -- a period that does not even generously fit Bush's description.
Moreover, his administrative flacks continued to lie about his dereliction of duty afterward:
"There was no need or reason for him to take a flying exam," Bartlett said, adding that allegations that he ducked the physical were "just outrageously false."
Nonetheless, thanks to the right-wingers' fake "Rathergate" controversy, the truth about Bush's record has been conveniently buried by right-wing hacks like Hannity:
Bush's re-election campaign was predicated on the notion that he is a straight shooter: "You know where I stand," was his signature line at the 2004 GOP convention. What the Texas Air National Guard episode makes clear, beyond any serious doubt, is that the man is lying manipulator -- one willing to falsify (perhaps criminally) the record about not only his own conduct in the military, but also his war-hero opponent's -- and there is no reason any of us should believe a word that comes out of his mouth. We know where he stands, all right: on the side of George W. Bush, and everyone and everything else is fair game.

Most importantly, it revealed that George W. Bush, the man who is demanding American boys and girls and their families continue making the ultimate sacrifice for their country in a failed and fruitless war built on a foundation of false pretenses -- that man was himself unwilling to even live up to his own modest military commitments, none of which involved so much as even placing himself in combat with the enemy. He continues to lie about that fact -- even as he and his Republican cohort assail the patriotism and integrity of anyone who dares stand up to them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hannity Says Mexican President Needs To Reform His Immigration Laws First. Um, Sean, He Just Did.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The wingnuts are all worked up over Mexican President Felipe Calderon's disparaging remarks about Arizona's police-state immigration law. (They especially don't like that Democrats applauded it.) Notably, Orrin Hatch got his feelings hurt.

One of their favorite ways to fire back at such criticism from south of the border is to point at Mexico's own immigration laws, which at one time were pretty antediluvian indeed. (This was the Washington Times' recent approach.) Sean Hannity trumpeted this approach in his lead segment on Fox News last night.

Hannity ran to his pal Michelle Malkin's website and pulled down a list of supposed attributes of Mexican immigration law (the Hannity graphic says it was posted May 20, but it actually ran back on April 28). Snarked Hannity:
Hannity: Here's my question: Before the president of Mexico comes here and lectures us on the South Lawn of the White House, you think he maybe ought to talk about changing his own law first?
Sure, Sean. Except that in fact he already did.

Hannity was working with outdated information from Malkin. Mexico reformed its immigration laws in 2008 so that it was no longer a criminal offense:
Migrant rights activists applauded a vote by Mexico's Congress to remove long-standing criminal penalties for undocumented migrants found in the country.

The measure passed unanimously in the lower house on Tuesday, a day after Senate approval. President Felipe Calderón's office declined to say whether he would sign the popular measure into law.

Mexican lawmakers saw the harsh penalties as an anachronism, and some noted that Mexico also owes migrants better treatment.
Andrea Nill at ThinkProgress' Wonk Room has more:

In 2008, the Mexican Congress voted unanimously with 393 votes to decriminalize undocumented immigration to Mexico. Before then, the Washington Times description of Mexican immigration law would’ve been accurate. Following the 2008 reform, however, undocumented immigration is a minor offense punishable by fines equivalent to about $475 to $2,400. The approved reform identified Mexico’s old immigration laws as “inadmissible” and a violation of human rights.
Anyone wanna bet we never see a correction from either Malkin, Hannity, or the Washington Times?

Two More Police Officers Killed, Two Wounded In Shootouts With Apparent White Supremacists

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It's beginning to emerge that the two men who shot and killed two police officers and wounded two more before being killed themselves in West Memphis, Arkansas, on Thursday were probably white supremacists from a small operation in southern Ohio. Why they opened fire on the cops remains a mystery, but this could be an important developing story:
Two police officers were fatally shot and another two were wounded Thursday in two separate shootings allegedly by the same suspects in West Memphis, Arkansas, police said.

The two suspects, who were using an assault weapon, were themselves fatally shot, said Inspector Bert Shelton, who is assigned to city hall for the West Memphis Police Department.

The incident began around 11:36 a.m. (12:36 p.m. ET), when West Memphis patrolman Bill Evans made a traffic stop on a white minivan traveling eastbound on I-40 at Airport Road, said Bill Sadler, public information officer for the Arkansas State Police.

After the vehicle exited the Interstate onto an off-ramp near College Avenue, Sgt. Brandon Paudert arrived on the scene as backup, Sadler said.

"It is our belief that Officer Evans was shoved to the ground by one of the suspects in the minivan and gunfire was directed at both officers," Sadler said.

The suspects then fled, driving east in the minivan, leaving one man dead and the other fatally wounded.

Within minutes, officers from other agencies -- including the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission -- began to converge on the area, looking for the suspects, he said.

About 90 minutes later, a minivan believed to be the one that had been seen leaving the shooting site was spotted in a parking lot of a nearby Wal-Mart, Sadler said.

There, it was approached by Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and Chief Enforcement Officer W.A. Wren, who were traveling in the same vehicle, he said.

Both men were wounded in a gunbattle initiated by the suspects, who were using a long rifle and a handgun, Sadler said.
It turns out that the white van you see in the video was registered to an old Aryan Nations church in the small town of New Vienna, Ohio:
The two gunmen connected to the shootings in West Memphis that left two West Memphis police officers dead Thursday, drove a van that's registered to a church in Ohio. According to records with the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles, the plates on the gunmen’s van are registered to “House of God’s Prayer” in New Vienna, Ohio.

The church was once affiliated with Harold Ray Redfeairn, a white supremacist preacher who died in 2003. Redfeairn was a leader of the Aryan Nation. He was also convicted of trying to kill a cop in 1979. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country, Redfeairn was sentenced to four consecutive seven-year minimum terms for attempted aggravated murder, but was paroled in 1991.

It cannot be proven the gunmen are tied to the Aryan group, but the van used by the suspects in this shootout was never reported stolen. The vehicle’s plates were renewed last summer, and set to expire next month.
The two shooters have been identified, but not much is known about them yet:
People claiming to be relatives of the two, however, told The Commercial Appeal they could identify them from numerous videos and photographs taken at the crime scene and available on Memphis media websites. They identified the men as Jerry Kane, 45, of Ohio and his 16-year-old son, Joseph.

Kane's own website this morning bears a note indicating the two were "shot down" by law enforcement in West Memphis.

The Commercial Appeal could not independently confirm the suspects' identification.
Attempts to verify the information led to a woman named Donna Lee in central Florida who said she was married to Jerry Kane and that Joe, as she called him, was her 16-year-old stepson. She wanted to emphasize Joseph Kane is a minor. She said the white minivan belonged to Jerry and was positive from photos and videos from the scene that the two unidentified dead suspects were Jerry and Joe Kane -- and that the dog she saw exiting the minivan was a labrador-rottweiler mix named Olie.

Another man, Jake Jefferson, said he was a nephew of Jerry Kane's and said he was positive that the dead person he saw in news accounts was 16-year-old Joe Kane, that the white minivan had belonged to Jerry for some time and they traveled the country helping people with mortgage and foreclosure issues. He also said he recognized the dog, and that Jerry and Joe had spent a month with him at his home in the Phoenix area over Christmas.

Jefferson and Lee both said Joe's mother had died previously. Jefferson said they traveled with a box of her ashes in the van.

"That's them," he said. "And why do I think they fired on police? Because they must have believed the police were going to fire on them."

The Internet company that hosted a website devoted to Jerry Kane's business has now published a memorial page that says "Jerry Kane & Joe Kane. Father and son killed in W. Memphis." At the top of the site it says, "Funds are now needed to bring Jerry and Joe back to Florida and for their funeral costs."
A local TV station reports:
Kane's business website, which lists information and classes on how to fight mortgage fraud and get around government regulations and taxes, has a memorial section dedicated to Joe and Jerry Kane. The website also says the two were on their way back from Florida, where they were now living with Jerry Kane's new wife and claims their initial traffic stop was unlawful and unjust.

The website lists Jerry's business address and phone number in Springfield, Ohio. Jerry and Joe were riding in a van with Clinton County plates, registered to a now defunct church in New Vienna, Ohio-it's not clear yet why they had the van.


The Kane's website says, "Jerry Kane and his beautiful son Joe (age 16) were shot to death during an alleged traffic stop by law enforcement on Thursday, May 20th, 2010. Jerry, Joe and their two dogs, while on their way back to their home in Florida have been made out to be everything from drug smugglers to hispanics, which we all know is typical of the media spinners. The police said it was a traffic stop. But their van had more bullet holes in it than Bonnie and Clyde's."

It goes on to say, "Last month, Jerry was stopped on I-40 in New Mexico and arrested for not having a drivers license. He recently completed his administrative process for the unlawful arrest. Coincidence? I-40 sounds like the good ole boy stretch-of-highway, where if they spot you, and they already dont like you, you'could get killed. Even if you are just a Dad and son with your two dogs on your way home, minding your own business."
The local Fox affiliate in Ohio has more on the van:
The van is registered in New Vienna, in Clinton County, about 60 miles north-east of Cincinnati.

The Mayor, Keith Collins and the Police Chief, James Holcomb, both told FOX19 they've never seen that van around town.

It is a small enough community, people pretty much know who's doing what, driving what and where things are happening.

And, our FOX19 investigation of public records shows the van could be linked to a white supremacist group that was once here in Ohio.

New Vienna, Ohio was the home of the Jesus Christ Christian Church, led by a self proclaimed white supremacist, the Aryan Nation Church and its leader Ray Redfairn, made headlines 13 years ago.

The van involved in Thursday's shooting in West Memphis, AR, was registered to the House Of God's Prayer, and that address is 143 West Main Street in New Vienna. Clinton County, OH records show the New Vienna property is owned by something called The Universal Life Of The Good Shepherd Church. It has an address 50 miles away in Middletown, OH.

Butler County records show the Middletown property is owned by Hoge and Mary Tabor. A man named Hoge Tabor is prominently mentioned in a book about the Aryan Nation in Ohio. Tabor told FOX19 on the phone that he indeed owns the New Vienna property, but then hung up the phone.

FOX19 tried knocking on the front door at 143 west Main Street and also tried beating on the rear door, but the police chief and the mayor said haven't seen anybody walk in or out of that building in years.

"Right now it's vacant," said Chief Holcomb. "There's nothing in that building at all."
"They were part of the Aryan Nation clear back in the 90's but they weren't really active because I think they're main headquarters was somewhere down in Clermont county," Collins said. "So they used this just basically for a base and just a mailing address and held church services back in the 90's."
While the information so far does not definitively confirm that the two dead shooters were white supremacists, both the van registration and their response to being approached by law enforcement are powerful indicators that this is the case.

Also, you can see Jerry Kane conducting a seminar here. As you can see, this appears to be a Freeman-style operation based on old Posse Comitatus garbage.

We'll have more information as it emerges.

Meanwhile, we hope Michelle Malkin adds these to her list of police officers felled by extremists. As we noted back when she and the rest of the right-wingers were loudly complaining about the DHS bulletin for law-enforcement officers warning of the threat posed by resurgent white-nationalist extremists:

A recent study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism lays out in painful detail the very real threat that right-wing extremists pose to people in law enforcement:
Research led by Dr. Joshua D. Freilich (John Jay College, CUNY) and Dr. Steven Chermak (Michigan State University) and funded by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has revealed a violent history of fatal attacks against law enforcement officers in the United States by individuals who adhere to far-right ideology.

* In the United States, 42 law enforcement officers have been killed in 32 incidents in which at least one of the suspects was a far-rightist since 1990.

* 94% of these incidents involved local or state law enforcement. Only two events—high-profile attacks at Ruby Ridge and at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City—involved federal agents. Much more common are events like the tragic Pittsburgh triple slayings.

* Attacks on police by far-rightists tend to occur during routine law enforcement activities. 34% of the officers killed by far-rightists were slain during a traffic stop, and a number of law enforcement officers have been killed while responding to calls for service similar to the domestic violence call that precipitated the Pittsburgh murders.

* Firearms were the most common type of weapon used during these fatal anti-police attacks. 88% of the incidents involved guns, while only 6% involved explosives and 6% involved knives. 81% of the victims were killed by guns.

* Only 12% of the suspects in these attacks were members of formal groups with far-right ideologies. The vast majority—like Poplawski—acted alone. This greatly complicates law-enforcement efforts to anticipate which individuals might pose a threat to police officers.

* Beyond these law enforcement murders, far-right violence presents a broader threat to national security and American citizens. Since 1990, far-rightists have been linked to more than 275 homicide incidents in 36 states. These crimes have resulted in the more than 530 fatalities, including the 168 victims murdered by Timothy McVeigh when he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The vast majority of these suspects are white and male, with almost 70% being 30 years old or younger.

Rand Paul Is A Bright Young Apple Who Falls Directly Beneath His Daddy's Tree -- Out There In The Orchards Of The Far Right

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

In his defense of Rand Paul yesterday, the normally admirable Dave Weigel offered the following quote, by way of suggesting the unfortunate fate that had befallen Paul in his devastating entanglement with Rachel Maddow:
"As a result of National Review’s above-the-fray philosophizing," wrote Edwards, "and Barry Goldwater’s vote, on constitutional grounds, against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the albatross of racism was hung around the neck of American conservatism and remained there for decades and even to the present."
This, like so much conservative and libertarian mythologizing, is a large load of bunk.

Conservatives have been associated with racism and white supremacy since at least the days of Dred Scot and John J. Calhoun. It was Southern conservatives who defended slavery, who led the South into secession and civil war and ruin, and who led the resistance to Reconstruction that overturned the verdict of the war and produced a century of Jim Crow and segregation that followed. It was conservatives who authored Plessy v. Ferguson, and it was conservatives who successfully led the fight to prevent Congress from ever passing an anti-lynching law. It was racist Southern conservatives who opposed the civil-rights movement at every turn -- well before Barry Goldwater ever tipped his vote in 1964.

But this kind of mythologizing serves a useful function: By idealizing the actual role of right-wing ideologies in history, it severs them from the historical realities they produced. Trotted out here, it lets us pretend that somehow the racist outcome of Rand Paul's ideology -- he at least told Rachel he wouldn't force private business to not discriminate racially -- are simply an accidental byproduct of his intellectually rigorous and consistent approach. As Blue Texan says, that's pretty pathetic.

Bruce Bartlett, a non-libertarian conservative, sagely observes:
As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation. Indeed, it got much worse, not just because it was enforced by law but because it was mandated by self-reinforcing societal pressure. Any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained. There is no reason to believe that this system wouldn't have perpetuated itself absent outside pressure for change.

In short, the libertarian philosophy of Rand Paul and the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s gave us almost 100 years of segregation, white supremacy, lynchings, chain gangs, the KKK, and discrimination of African Americans for no other reason except their skin color. The gains made by the former slaves in the years after the Civil War were completely reversed once the Supreme Court effectively prevented the federal government from protecting them. Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn't work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse.
This is a rhetorical game with very real stakes. It is a game Rand Paul knows well, and obviously plays well -- because it's a game his father, Ron Paul has mastered over his several decades in Congress: camouflaging real extremism with a pleasant facade of mellow libertarian reasonableness.

Indeed, this whole fight is over a facet of Rand Paul's ideology that is nearly identical to his father's. As Josh Marshall observes:
I fear though that that's not the whole story with Paul -- father or son. The truth is that there's a long and hard to explain history of both Pauls being associated with a lot of people who are avowed or crypto-racists. There's the well-known story of Ron Paul's early 1990s era newsletter which was rife with racist and homophobic commentary. Paul later distanced himself from the newsletter, claiming that items written under his name were penned by a ghost-writer and that he wasn't familiar with what had appeared there.

And then there was the case back in December in which Rand's Senate campaign spokesman Chris Hightower had to resign because of racist posts on his Myspace page. Looked at in broad terms you've got a couple of guys who apparently aren't racist in any way but happen to stumble their way into close associations with racists with an astonishing frequency. It's almost like a painful race version of that classic Onion headline: "Why Do All These Homosexuals Keep Sucking My ----." There is of course the fact that Ron Paul became the darling of numerous skinhead and white supremacist groups -- but that's in a very different category because you're not responsible for who supports you but what you yourself support.
Recall, if you will, the contents of those Ron Paul newsletters:
Martin Luther King Jr. earned special ire from Paul's newsletters, which attacked the civil rights leader frequently, often to justify opposition to the federal holiday named after him. ("What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!" one newsletter complained in 1990. "We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.") In the early 1990s, a newsletter attacked the "X-Rated Martin Luther King" as a "world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours," "seduced underage girls and boys," and "made a pass at" fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy. One newsletter ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New York City after King, suggesting that "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," and "Lazyopolis" were better alternatives. The same year, King was described as "a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."

While bashing King, the newsletters had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. In a passage titled "The Duke's Victory," a newsletter celebrated Duke's 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Republican Senate primary.

"Duke lost the election," it said, "but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment." In 1991, a newsletter asked, "Is David Duke's new prominence, despite his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?" The conclusion was that "our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom." Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.
The same was true of Ron Paul's record in Congress, where he has consistently tried to make it easier for racial and ethnic discrimination to occur in our society:

A bill to provide that the Internal Revenue Service may not implement certain proposed rules relating to the determination of whether private schools have discriminatory policies.

: A bill to make all Iranian Students in the United States ineligible for any form of federal aid.

: A bill to provide for civil rights in public schools.

[This was the "Public School Civil Rights Act of 1984", an anti-busing bill: "Eliminates inferior Federal court jurisdiction to issue any order requiring the assignment or transportation of students to public schools on the basis of race, color, or national origin."]

-- He would propose an amendment to the Constitution to gut the Fourteenth Amendment by denying citizenship to people born here whose parents aren't already citizens "nor persons who owe permanent allegiance to the United States". That latter part could produce some serious political discrimination, especially if radicals can have their citizenship revoked:
H.J.RES.46: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to deny United States citizenship to individuals born in the United States to parents who are neither United States citizens nor persons who owe permanent allegiance to the United States.
I've also written at length about Ron Paul's history of far-right extremism, including his associations, both accidental and intentional, with far-right extremists:
Paul's associations with the radical right, in fact, are fully relevant, on three levels:

1) He has a fully documented history of actively seeking their support.

2) His ideological framework -- fighting "the New World Order," eliminating the Fed, the IRS, and most federal agencies, getting us out of the U.N., ending all gun controls, reinstating the gold standard -- meshes neatly with theirs.

3) The organizations with whom he's associated are not benign, nor merely even "controversial", but are truly noxious elements that no responsible politician should be seen endorsing: racists, xenophobes, conspiracists, and frauds. This isn't the Rose Garden Society we're talking about here, or even the NRA.

As I recently pointed out:
[I]if you run through the broad array of kooky theories about the federal government promoted on the far right, you can find any number of Ron Paul's positions -- particularly regarding the gold standard, the Federal Reserve, the IRS, and the United Nations -- floating about there. Notably, Paul also played a significant role in Congress' ongoing failure to confront the growing problem of conspiracy-driven tax protests by diverting the blame to the IRS itself. But that's who Ron Paul is -- a "constitutionalist" who deals in conspiracy theories and extremist anti-government beliefs. It's who he always has been, and who he is now.

It isn't just an accident that Paul very recently spoke to a group with troubling racial ties, or that he attended a Patriot Network banquet in his honor in 2004, or that he gave an interview to a conspiracist magazine the same year. Hell, he's been operating within those same circles since 1985.
Rand Paul was an adult when his dad's racist newsletters were being published; someone should ask him about them.

The problem Rand Paul is having right now is that no one asked his father these questions about civil rights when he ran for president. Because they should have.

Ron Paul and Rand Paul both like to present radical ideas in reasonable clothing. But the consequences of their ideas have outcomes that we have seen proven in our own history as toxic and destructive to our democratic ideals. Their ideas were long ago discredited, and simply fluffing them up in new language will not make their real-life consequences any less horrific.

There is, after all, a simple reason the Pauls attract racists to their campaigns: Their ideologies would make racist discrimination legal again. You can call it a matter of deep intellectual consistency if you like. I call it selling cheap rationalizations for real evil in the world.

Who cares if they themselves are racist or not? What matters is the fruit from the tree. As ye sow ...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2nd Grader Tells First Lady: 'My Mom Said Barack Obama Is Going To Take Away Everybody That Doesn't Have Papers'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As Art Linkletter useta say ...
"My mom said … Barack Obama is going to take away everybody that doesn't have papers," one girl told the first lady.

"Yeah, well, that's something that we have to work on, right?" Mrs. Obama replied. "To make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? That's exactly right."

The girl countered, "But my mom doesn't have any."

"Well, we have to work on that, we have to fix that and everybody's got to work together in Congress to make sure that happens. That's right," Mrs. Obama said before moving on to the next question.
I know Rahm Emanuel and his Blue Dogs wanna put immigration reform off for as long as they can. But I'm not sure how long they're going to be able to. The real-world pressure to solve this mess is mounting. And the best part is: progressive solutions will work.

As the LA Times piece notes:
"This heartbreaking exchange says more about the current state of the immigration debate than the remarks of the two presidents in the Rose Garden," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a pro-immigration reform group, noting that deportations nationally have gone up under Obama.

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says its priority is to remove illegal immigrants who are violent criminals. But it maintains a goal of 400,000 deportations this year, which would be a record. Most of those people would not fall into the criminal category, agency statistics show, and some probably would include parents of children who are U.S. citizens.
No doubt the right-wingers will demand that federal officials track down this little girl's mother and deport her posthaste. Sounds like a job for Stalkin' Malkin.

Rand Paul Hurriedly Tries To Back Away From His Maddow Interview, Now Claims He Supports Civil Rights Act

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sure enough, no sooner had Rand Paul's revealing interview with Rachel Maddow hit the air than Paul began rapidly backtracking, trying to claim he didn't really believe the things he had gone on national television and said.

This morning he issued a petulant "clarification":
“I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person. I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation. Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

“Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”

“As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years.”

“My opponent's statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims.”
By mid-morning, according to Greg Sargent, he was in full-out "retraction" mode:
A spokesman for Rand Paul just clarified to me that the candidate does, in fact, believe that the Federal government should have the power to ban private businesses from discriminating based on race.

Paul had earlier claimed he didn't support that role for the Federal government, sparking a raging controversy. A statement he issued today in hopes of quieting the firestorm affirmed his support for the Civil Rights Act, but only said he backed it for stopping "discrimination in the public sphere."

Asked for further clarification, Jesse Benton, a spokesman for the Paul campaign, confirmed that Paul does in fact think the Federal government should have the power to ban private businesses from commiting racial discrimination. He told me:
"Civil Rights legislation that has been affirmed by our courts gives the Federal government the right to ensure that private businesses don't discriminate based on race. Dr. Paul supports those powers."

That's a reversal from what Paul said last night on Rachel Maddow's show. Maddow asked Paul to clarify his previous expressions of doubt about parts of the Civil Rights Act, querying: "Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?"

"Yes," Paul answered, repeatedly decrying racism but saying he was reluctant to "limit their speech."

But now Paul's campaign is clarifying that he does, in fact, think this is an appropriate role for the Federal government.
Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina ripped into Paul this morning on the Andrea Mitchell show on MSNBC, pointing out that Paul was confused about just which Civil Rights Act gave black people full civil rights -- beyond 1964, there were further acts in 1965, 1968, and 1972, all of which brought incremental change. But most of all, Paul seems not to understand why and how those laws came about, and particularly, the continuing need to safeguard the advances they represented -- not to roll them back to some libertarian utopia:
Clyburn: I would say to Dr. Paul that he needs to come clean with the American people and say exactly what it is he wants to do if he's elected to the United States Senate. He made himself the face and the spokesperson for the Tea Party movement at his victory party on Tuesday night. And then he set out the next morning, yesterday, to lay out the philosophy of that movement. And I think he made it very clear to the voters in America exactly what that movement is all about. They are parsing words, they are sending signals, they are saying things that ought to give all of us great pause.
Indeed. That's no doubt why Sen. Jim DeMint, guru of the Tea Party set and one of Paul's main supporters, is also backtracking as fast as he can, via ThinkProgess:

TP: Last night your candidate Rand Paul said that he would oppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

DEMINT: I haven’t seen the interview yet so –

TP: Do you agree with him? [...] But do you support the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it’s a simple question. [...] Sir, you have no comment on that?
DEMINT: Yes I do. No, I support the Civil Rights Act.

TP: What about the Americans with Disabilities Act? Rand Paul says he wants to abolish that as well.

DEMINT: I’m going to talk to Rand about his positions–
You will be excused if this interview evokes loud guffaws. Or even low mordant chuckles.

Beck Won't Devote 'Precious Airtime' To Refuting Rep. Weiner. Instead, He'll Devote It To Hawking Gold

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

On his show yesterday, Glenn Beck decided to finally confront Anthony Weiner's investigation of his Goldline scam -- in predictable Beck fashion:

Step A: Frame such attacks in a paranoid light -- "They're out to destroy me because I speak the truth to you!"

Step B: Double down on the scam by promoting it directly on the show.

Yet as Rep. Weiner noted:
"It is not surprising that Glenn Beck is attempting to deflect from his behavior in promoting Goldline," Weiner told Yahoo! News in a statement. "But the facts are clear. Goldline rips off consumers and Glenn Beck helps."

In the report (on Weiner's House website as a PDF), Weiner charges that Goldline "grossly overcharges" for coins and makes false claims about gold being a good investment. Goldline touts gold as a more solid investment in this economic climate.

The report says the gold retailer has entered "an unholy alliance with conservative pundits" — among them Beck, Fred Thompson, Dennis Miller, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham — to "promote Goldline by playing off the fear of inflation."

"What we have found, by looking through the public records, is that very often they use their public programs to advocate purchasing gold, and then immediately, advertisements begin for Goldline," Weiner said in a news conference Tuesday.
As Will Bunch notes, Mother Jones just published a months-long investigation of the practices of Goldline and its gold-industry cohorts, and the results aren't pretty:
The price of gold has increased 133 percent since the beginning of 2006, yet many Goldline customers say they have lost money on their purchases after discovering—as Richardson did—that they had badly overpaid for their gold coins. Richardson is one of 44 people across the country who have filed complaints against Goldline with the Los Angeles BBB in the past three years; customers have also griped about their dealings with the company on message boards such as Ripoff Report and Regulators in Missouri have sanctioned the company for pressuring an elderly couple to liquidate their other investments to buy overpriced coins.

The Federal Trade Commission received 17 separate complaints about Goldline's sales tactics between early 2006 and May 2010, according to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Many of those stories mirror Richardson's.
And of course, our favorite Insane Wingnut plays an important role in all this:
Beck, whose various media enterprises brought in $32 million last year, according to Forbes, has a particular interest in plugging gold. Since 2008, Goldline has been one of his most reliable sponsors, underwriting his comedy tours and investing heavily in his radio show. Last year, after Beck called President Obama a racist, and mainstream advertisers bailed on his cable show, Goldline stuck by him. And its loyalty appears to have paid off. In an email, Goldline's executive vice president Scott Carter says that while its Beck sponsorship doesn't bring in the majority of its customers, it "has improved sales," which exceed $500 million a year.

... The more worked up Beck gets about the economy or encroaching socialism, the more Goldline can employ those fears in pitching their products to his audience. But in putting his seal of approval on Goldline, "the people I've trusted for years and years," Beck has gone beyond simply endorsing an advertiser.
No doubt Mother Jones will be appearing on Beck's chalkboard soon, too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sue Lowden Tries To Claim She Didn't Say What The Tapes Show She Said About Chickens For Health Care

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I'm always impressed by the sheer brass of Republicans who will go on TV and flatly lie about things that are easily substantiated. Like when Sarah Palin went before the cameras and asserted the Troopergate report had exonerated her when in fact it had done just the opposite. Or Lou Dobbs pretending he hadn't defended his leprosy coverage.

That takes a special level of psychopathy. Very impressive.

Then there's Sue Lowden, she of chickens for health care fame. As Greg Sargent reports, she recently went on another Nevada TV show and tried to claim she didn't actually phrase her thoughts on chicken-bartering for health care as the host had quoted her saying -- even though it was something the tapes clearly show her saying:
Lowden got into a testy exchange over chickens-for-checkups with Nevada journalist Jon Ralston at yesterday's GOP Senate primary debate ...

Lowden rebukes her host, insisting that he go out and see for themselves that people are bartering for health care. But the best part comes towards the end.

Ralston directly confronts Lowden with her own words, and she denies ever saying them.
Ralston points out that Lowden talked about how people used to barter chickens for checkups in the old days, and he quotes her saying: "I'm not backing down from that system."

"No, I never said `from that system,'" Lowden shot back. "I never said, `from that system.'"
Well, just so you can see for yourselves, we've included the original video from her April 19 TV appearance. As you can see, this is precisely what she said:
I’m telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor, they would say I’ll paint your house. I mean, that’s the old days of what people would do to get health care with your doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system.
I also rather enjoyed Lowden suggesting to Ralston: "Where have you been? You need to get in my RV or some other means of transportation and visit the folks here."

Oh, does she mean the RV she obtained through an illegal donation?

Here it is:

I dunno about you, but having once been a rural working-class stiff myself, I can tell you what kind of message a big luxury bus like this sends. And it isn't "I'm one of you folks."
Sure hope Lowden wins that GOP primary, don't you?

Arizona's Police-state Immigration Law Gives Local Cops Federal Powers -- But Its Defenders Try To Obscure That Fact

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Greta Van Susteren hosted the execrable Kris Kobach, co-author of Arizona's police-state immigration law, earlier this week to explain some of its deeper nuances -- for instance, what new powers does the law give to Arizona police?

Kobach, as is his wont, prevaricated:
Kobach: Well, this law is actually quite narrow in scope. The law basically says that police officers, when they are making a stop for some other violation of law, and they, in the course of that traffic stop would be typical, they develop a reasonable suspicion -- and that's a well-defined concept in the courts, as you know -- they develop reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien, then they have to act on that suspicion and contact ICE, which has a hotline that's been in place for fifteen years, and they have to determine if the person is actually lawfully present in the country.

It also requires -- it makes it an Arizona misdemeanor to fail to carry the documents that a person is required to carry by federal law if the person is an alien. For the last seventy years, it's been a requirement of federal law that aliens in the United States register and carry certain documents with them. The Arizona law just says, if you're breaking this federal law, you're also committing a misdemeanor in Arizona.
But that leaves begging, of course, what happens when legal citizens are asked to produce proof of citizenship. Already, we have an ongoing problem with ICE accidentally (or otherwise) deporting American citizens -- and that's the agency where people are supposed to be specially trained to avoid such cases. When you have every rural deputy in Arizona enforcing federal immigration, well, it will be only a matter of time before the Kafkaesque qualities of this law become manifest.

But Van Susteren still wanted to know:
Van Susteren: I guess that's what's sort of curious -- what I don't quite get about the law is what authority that anyone gets from this law. In some ways it just seems like a way for the state of Arizona to engage the feds to finally come down and do something about their national immigration policy.

Kobach: Well, what it does is it requires officers not to turn a blind eye to that reasonable suspicion. It says, look, if you discover a situation where you've got a packed minivan, like they are alien smuggling --

Van Susteren: But yeah, that's like if you stop someone for speeding, and you go up to the car and you get a driver's license, you run the driver's license and you find out that the person is driving after revocation. You may not give a ticket for the driving -- the speeding, because it might have been a warning, but you're going to arrest the person for driving after revocation.

Kobach: Right. And in the example you gave, the person acted on the additional crime he found. Here, for example, the same as if he discovered drugs -- you wouldn't tell the officer, 'Turn a blind eye, pay no attention to the bag of marijuana on the passenger seat.'
Actually, there's a very simple and direct answer to Van Susteren's question: SB1070 puts local and state police officers in charge of enforcing civil violations of federal law. This is a clear usurpation of federal immigration authority, and one of the key reasons why the ACLU and other civil liberties organizations have sued to overturn the law -- namely, it "violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution by interfering with the federal government's authority to regulate and enforce immigration."

As this National Immigration Forum backgrounder [PDF file] explains, local police have traditionally stayed away from enforcing federal immigration for a number of reasons -- not the least of which is that it's an unneeded burden that frequently dilutes and interferes with their ability to combat real crime.
As to the enforcement of immigration laws, it has historically been the case that state and local police do not have the authority to enforce federal civil immigration laws. While state and local police have often worked with federal agents on criminal matters, they have generally steered clear of the enforcement of administrative/civil immigration laws.
Indeed, there is an important distinction between civil and criminal violations of immigration that comes into play here, as the NIF piece explains:
Immigration law is extremely complex, and is constantly changing. There are criminal and civil violations of immigration law. Civil violations include, for example, illegal presence and failure to depart after the expiration of a temporary visa. Criminal violations include illegal entry, re-entry after deportation, and failure to depart after an order of removal. To make matters more complicated, those in this last category are committing a criminal offense only if the government can show that they “willfully” failed to depart; but most removal orders are entered in absentia. If failure to depart is not “willful” (if, for example, the person was not aware that there was a removal order entered against them), the offense is a civil violation.
It's important to remember that unless people are caught in the actual act of crossing the border, and not merely found on a freeway crammed into a minivan, there is no criminal violation that any officer could suspect them of. The only violation likely to arouse suspicion would be a civil one.

Thus, as you can see, Kobach's and Van Susteren's analogy comparing someone suspected of being in the country illegally to someone pulled over with a bag of pot on the seat, or some other criminal violation, is all wrong.

A more apt analogy would be a situation in which a police officer approached a suspect for a drinking-and-driving violation and began to suspect that the same person was a tax cheat because he was a wealthy white Republican. Certainly, there are no shortage of those in Arizona.

If the Arizona law were applied similarly regarding all federal civil violations, well, the officer would be required to call the IRS and have that person audited.

Anyone wanna bet the Arizona Legislature won't be demanding that of their police officers anytime soon?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Newt Gingrich Gets Free Rein To Embrace His Inner Fearmonger On Hannity's Show

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Newt Gingrich got to continue his Fox News Book Promotion Tour last night on Sean Hannity's show, pitching his new book, To Save America: Why Liberals Want to Eat Your Children, picking up where he left off on Sunday's gig with Chris Wallace.

Let's just say that Gingrich without the restraints of Wallace's, ah, probing questions is kind of like root-canal work without the benefit of anesthetics.

Unlike Wallace, Hannity was openly promoting Gingrich's story line, to wit, that President Obama and the evil liberals are going to destroy America by instituting a "secular socialist" state. Hannity could scarcely contain himself as they contemplated Obama's supposed deep-seated radicalism.

Hannity, you see, believes with Gingrich that "we are in a battle for the heart and soul of America -- in fact, the greatest battle since the Civil War."

Just in case there was anyone out there wondering when right-wingers were going to get around to declaring civil war on liberals.

There were lots of prime bon mots, but perhaps my favorite was this one:
Gingrich: By the early 1990s, I thought, you know, we've proven all the major tenets of modern American conservatism. And it never occurred to me that the hard left would just dig in, bury themselves -- in the academic world, in the news media, in the labor unions -- and now have come back more left-wing, more radical, more determined than ever.
See, this is what we call "projection". Because as we all know, and are still experiencing, the "major tenets of modern conservatism" have just been exposed as a complete sham, a mockery of modern governance, by the eight years of the Bush administration -- eight years in which conservatives destroyed the economy, destroyed America's standing in the world, and horribly impacted the global environment.

And yes, you'd think after that experience, conservatives would stand back in shock at the recognition of what they've done to the economy and mend their ways. Probably no one (except those of us who know them too well) would imagine that they would just bury themselves in the work of denying heatedly that they just brought the nation to its knees and become more determined than ever to seize the reins of power by any means necessary. Including trying to invoke a civil war.

But then, some of us know them better than that.

Another 'Family Values' Republican Bites The Dust: Abstinence Advocate Mark Souder To Resign Over Affair With Staffer

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Awwwwwww. We're shocked, shocked we tell you:
Indiana Republican Rep. Mark Souder announced Tuesday he would resign from Congress, effective Friday, because he had an affair with a staffer.

The eight-term congressman apologized for his actions but provided no details.
"I am so ashamed to have hurt the ones I love," he said at a news conference in Fort Wayne. "I am sorry to have let so many friends down, people who have worked so hard for me."

... Souder, 59, said he would not be a candidate in the fall election. It will be up to Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels to decide whether to call a special election to fill the vacancy or wait until the November ballot.

"I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff," Souder said. "In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon and twisted for political gain. I am resigning rather than put my family through a painful drawn out process.
Yeah, it's the nasty environment in Washington that made him resign, you see.

According to Fox News, Souder had an affair with a part-time staffer named Tracy Jackson -- the woman you see interviewing Souder in the video above.

As Justin Elliott at TPM Muckraker notes:
The eight-term Indiana congressman is, of course, a vocal proponent of traditional family values. He has been married since 1974 and has three grown children.

"I believe that Congress must fight to uphold the traditional values that undergird the strength of our nation," he says on his official website. "The family plays a fundamental role in our society. Studies consistently demonstrate that it is best for a child to have a mother and father, and I am committed to preserving traditional marriage, the union of one man and one woman."

Souder adds: "I am committed to fighting the assault on American values."
Including, evidently, the value of boinking your staffers.

Beck Compares America To The Titanic. A Better Analogy: His Fast-sinking Show

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, we don't call Glenn Beck the Fearmonger In Chief for nothing. Yesterday on his show, he compared the Ship of State to the Titanic, featuring a clip from the movie of the same name (made, incidentally, by a director who despises him).

It's pretty much standard Beck-style apocalypticism: incoherent, raving, arm-waving nonsense. Yawn. Like we haven't seen this act before?

Indeed we have. Last November, he used the exact same analogy, except that he was more explicit about who was to blame:
Beck: So as I tell you these things, know that there is hope on the other side. But we are about to walk through a wall of fire! We are about to be baptized through fire.

It's because we weren't protecting liberty. But let me tell you -- let me tell you we have a choice ahead of us. I see -- I see America as the people on a boat. The boat is the Titanic. We've had a crew and a captain who took this ship and rammed her right upside the iceberg. She's been takin' in water for awhile, all the while the captains, the crews, they've been comin' and goin' and they say, 'Don't worry, don't worry, it's the Titanic, it's unsinkable.'

Then we elected a new captain and crew, and they took that thing and they backed it up, and now they are ramming it into the iceberg! Now they're taking this ship and they're taking it and they're -- with health care, and cap and trade, and stimulus -- they're doin' the same amount of damage that all the other crews did, just faster!

All the while they're telling all the passengers, you just go back into your stateroom, everything's just fine, you go ahead in the salon. There's some drinks up there for you, you go listen to the music, everything's fine.

Let me tell you something. Each and every one of us are here, and wide awake. Each and every one of us are a passenger on this ship, and it's our damned ship!
Truth is, the whole schtick is getting worn out and tedious. Indeed, that's the best word to describe Beck's show these days: an extended exercise in wide-eyed tedium.

Which is what makes this analogy so ironic: It would be much better applied to Beck's fast-sinking ship of a TV show, as Eric Boehlert observes:
It's getting difficult to even remember when Beck's show was averaging three million viewers each night, even though that was just four short months ago. These days, Glenn Beck is more likely to draw two million viewers, which means that yes, the Fox News host has lost one-third of his audience already this year.

Not only that, but there are increasingly days where Beck no longer hits the two million mark. Like on April 9, when, according to Nielsen data, the show drew 1.97 million viewers, which set the year's low mark. Then on April 22, the show dipped down further, to 1.82 million viewers. And now Glenn Beck has set yet another ratings low: May 14, the show attracted 1.77 million viewers. That is almost exactly half the audience the show was getting at its peak in late January.

Beck might do better if he started featuring explosions of monster truck rallies. Something like that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Will A Driver's License Suffice As Proof Of Citizenship In Arizona? Maybe, But Only If You're From Arizona

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

One of the claims being made by defenders of Arizona's police-state immigration law is that Latino citizens won't have to carry their birth certificate or other proof of citizenship in order to avoid arrest should they have contact with police -- all they need to carry is their driver's license.

Among others making this claim is the bill's co-author, State Sen. Russell Pearce, last week on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show:
Pearce: Citizens aren't required to carry any documentation they weren't required to carry yesterday. In Arizona, if you have a driver's license, a state ID, an identity card, that's presumption that you're in the state legally.
Pearce is far from alone in claiming this. In his NYT op-ed on the law, Kris Kobach -- another key player in the bill's authorship -- wrote the same thing:
Because Arizona allows only lawful residents to obtain licenses, an officer must presume that someone who produces one is legally in the country.
Roy Beck's nativist outfit, NumbersUSA, made a similar claim on its fact sheet:
The majority requests for documentation will take place during the course of other police business such as traffic stops. Because Arizona allows only lawful residents to obtain licenses, an officer must presume that someone who produces one is legally in the country.
And Byron York, in his much-quoted (by conservatives) defense of SB 1070, writes similarly:
But what if the driver of the car had shown the officer his driver's license? The law clearly says that if someone produces a valid Arizona driver's license, or other state-issued identification, they are presumed to be here legally. There's no reasonable suspicion.
Here's what the text of SB 1070 says:




But as Stephen Lemon points out, this language is actually pretty startling: You will be presumed to be an illegal alien in Arizona unless you can produce one of these four kinds of ID.

Now, I haven't been able to find anything in Arizona code requiring citizens to carry one of these forms of ID with them at all times. But SB1070 certainly does create that requirement. As Lemons says:
If during any police investigation, a cop has "reasonable suspicion" to think you're in the country illegally, he or she can presume you're an undocumented alien unless you provide one of several forms of ID.

... Subsequently, even U.S. citizens could be held until someone from Immigration and Customs Enforcement is called to sort them out.

Keep in mind that a cop can stop someone and begin the process during the "enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state." That's so broad as to include weed abatement and barking dogs.
But this also raises a huge question: What if you're from another state? What if you're only carrying an out-of-state driver's license?

Many states refuse to require proof of citizenship when issuing driver's licenses: they wisely understand that it's more important to have people driving their roads with licenses and documentation than not, and requiring citizenship papers is a good way to discourage it.

So if someone -- say, a fourth-generation Latino citizen with an accent -- traveling through Arizona with a California or a Washington driver's license has the misfortune to be pulled over in a traffic stop -- or maybe just one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's roadblocks -- and has the similar misfortune to arouse an officer's "reasonable suspicion" (say, he has a heavy accent or looks nervous), he could be hauled in and arrested under SB 1070, until someone back home can fax the birth certificate.

Finally, as much as the law's apologists might make this claim, the reality is that Latino drivers in Arizona are already being arrested for failing to carry a birth certificate of proof of citizenship. Remember this fellow?

He first showed the officers who arrested him his driver's license.

All this would explain why issued the following advisory:
U.S. legal resident aliens, and especially U.S. citizens, normally don’t carry proof of their immigration status or citizenship, when traveling domestically. In fact, most U.S. citizens don’t even have proof of citizenship. Fewer than 22% of Americans have passports, and probably fewer than 30% have “certified” birth certificates. Most Americans only have “hospital” birth certificates. U.S. Citizens could carry their passport, passport card, certified birth certificate if born in the U.S., or naturalization papers to prove citizenship, but that would be a first for U.S. citizens, traveling in their own country, to have to prove citizenship.

After reviewing the new law, and carefully considering the statements of the law’s supporters and critics, especially if you’re a swarthy skinned traveler in Arizona, I’d recommend you carry proof of U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status to avoid possible detention, if this law goes into effect.

Travel agents with whom I’ve spoken are unanimous, that if the law goes into effect, they will add a strongly worded advisory, to all client invoices and itineraries for travel to or through Arizona, to carry proof of citizenship or legal immigration status.
And if you live in Arizona, I would not count on the assurances of Russell Pearce and Kris Kobach. Because a driver's license may get you off the hook -- or maybe not. It'll depend on the officer, apparently.

Sure sounds like a police state to me.

Is It Time To Blow Up The Leaking Gulf Oil Well? BP Doing Its Best To Keep That Option Under Wraps

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Shepard Smith had a fascinating segment on the catastrophic Gulf oil spill today, featuring an interview with a former nuclear-sub captain who argued persuasively that it was time -- past time, really -- to blow up that leaking oil well in the Gulf and put an end to the massive pollution that's resulted from its being open.

Smith originally brought on Christopher Brownfield to discuss the potential for using a nuclear bomb to stop the leak, and Brownfield said that yes, it was decided a viable way to stop it -- it has been done four times previously. But he gave many compelling reasons NOT to use a nuclear warhead for the job -- the biggest one being that the same job could be accomplished with conventional explosives.

So why aren't we talking about doing this? Well, Brownfield explained that too:
Brownfield: If we demolish the well using explosives, the investment's gone. They lose hundreds of millions of dollars, from the drilling of the well, plus no lawmaker in his right mind would allow BP to drill again in that same spot. So basically, it's an all-or-nothing thing with BP: They either keep the well alive, or they lose their whole investment and all the oil that they could potentially get from that well.
As Brownfield explains, "We need to seal this thing off." Desperately. But why hasn't anyone been bringing a complete shutdown of the well to the table?
Brownfield: Yes, I think -- stopping the spill immediately. And the reason why we haven't seen that option is because, frankly, BP is still at the helm. I think President Obama needs to take charge of this, bring all the assets of our military to bear, bring the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, bring the U.S. Navy, and bring in all the private-sector organizations that have the equipment for deep-sea operations to make this happen. Let's explode this, collapse the well, and put an end to it.
I don't know about the rest of you but this story seems like it should be the final straw:
Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.
If Brownfield is right, BP has had its chance to save its well. The time has run out.

If Brownfield is right, it's time for the president to seize control of the situation and blow this well up.